JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – As a lawyer, William McSwain has been involved in cases in which he argued to keep a Ten Commandments plaque at a courthouse, backed a whistleblower involved in a conflict with a technology company and supported the Boy Scouts of America when an effort was underway to evict a chapter from a Philadelphia-owned property because of the organization’s ban on gay members.

He also prosecuted rioters involved in last year’s sometimes-violent demonstrations in Philadelphia following the death of George Floyd, while also opposing drug injection sites and sanctuary cities.

McSwain, a Republican, mentioned those stances and other legal positions when campaigning for governor during a stop at Asiago’s Tuscan Italian in Westmont on Wednesday.

“In all those cases and others, people told me, ‘You know what, Bill, you’re just wasting your time. These battles are too tough,’ ” McSwain said. “They told me that the Ten Commandments plaque had to go. They told me that the Boy Scouts can’t stay. They told me that big tech is going to run me over. They told me that the woke mob was going to get their heroin injection sites in Philadelphia. … I didn’t care. I did it anyway because you can’t back away from challenges when safety, justice, fairness and freedom hang in the balance.”

McSwain is a former United States attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, nominated by President Donald Trump.

He served in the Marine Corps and earned degrees from both Harvard and Yale.

Robert Gleason, former chairman of the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania, said McSwain reminded him of former Gov. Dick Thornburgh.

“Leaders like Bill and Gov. Thornburgh are not afraid to make tough decisions,” Gleason said. “I talked to Bill at length about, as governor, what he is going to espouse. He’s going to advocate our constitutional rights, which is very important. He’s going to support our beliefs and support law and order in Pennsylvania.”

McSwain discussed how he would handle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic during the gathering.

“We will not have irrational, unscientific closings and no heavy-handed state dictates on how you live your lives,” McSwain said. “We will revive Pennsylvania’s economy by cutting taxes for working families, by supporting small businesses, by reducing regulations and by cutting wasteful government spending. We’re going to promote our energy industries instead of trying to regulate it to death. We’re going to get the government off of your back.”

Regarding voting laws, McSwain said he wants to “make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”

“We are going to secure our elections by having commonsense laws that protect against fraud, like voter ID,” McSwain said. “We are going to have voter ID, and also by having statewide election officials who care about what they’re supposed to care about when it comes to elections. They’re supposed to care about transparency. They’re supposed to care about accuracy. They’re not supposed to care about partisan politics.”

Many Republicans have questioned the legitimacy of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election when he carried Pennsylvania on way to defeating Trump.

Before his speech, McSwain was asked: “On that same subject, did a free and fair election occur in Pennsylvania in 2020 for president?”

He did not answer “yes” or “no.”

Instead, McSwain responded: “Well, Joe Biden is our president, unfortunately. I think he’s bad for this country. We’re seeing that unfold. It’s not just the incompetence in Afghanistan. It’s lots of issues, whether its’s the open border, whether it’s out-of-control inflation, it’s a terrible jobs report that we got in August.

“We’ve got to live with Joe Biden, but hopefully it’s only going to last for one term.”

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.

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